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Marsalis’s Blues Symphony

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Marsalis’s Blues Symphony

Friday, December 1—Sunday, December 3, 2023

Friday, December 1—Sunday, December 3, 2023
Orchestra Hall
2 hours
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"The blues helps you remember back before the troubles on hand," says Pulitzer Prize–winning composer and multi-Grammy Award–winning trumpeter Wynton Marsalis." They carry you on the wings of angels to a timeless higher ground." Music Director Jader Bignamini leads Marsalis’s Blues Symphony and works by Gershwin and Bernstein that further define the American sound. Acclaimed soprano and Broadway star Meghan Picerno makes her DSO debut with songs from West Side Story, Candide, and more.


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George Gershwin (Arr. Frank Campbell-Watson)
"Strike Up the Band"
George Gershwin
"Lady Be Good: The Man I Love"
George Gershwin
By Strauss
Leonard Bernstein
Overture to Candide
Leonard Bernstein
"Somewhere" from West Side Story
Leonard Bernstein
"I Feel Pretty" from West Side Story
Blues Symphony


Jader Bignamini


Jader Bignamini was introduced as the 18th music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in January 2020, commencing with the 2020–2021 season. His infectious passion and artistic excellence set the tone for the seasons ahead, creating extraordinary music and establishing a close relationship with the orchestra. A jazz aficionado, he has immersed himself in Detroit’s rich jazz culture and the influences of American music.

In December, Bignamini returned to Detroit to lead a triumphant performance of Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst, Strauss’s Concerto for Oboe and Small Orchestra, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3, “Eroica.” He returned again in May 2021 to conduct four programs including performances with violinist Midori and pianist Orli Shaham.

A native of Crema, Italy, Bignamini studied at the Piacenza Music Conservatory and began his career as a musician (clarinet) with Orchestra Sinfonica La Verdi in Milan, later serving as the group’s resident conductor. Captivated by the operatic arias of legends like Mahler and Tchaikovsky, Jader explored their complexity and power, puzzling out the role that each instrument played in creating a larger-than-life sound. When he conducted his first professional concert at the age of 28, it didn’t feel like a departure, but an arrival.

In the years since, Bignamini has conducted some of the world’s most acclaimed orchestras and opera companies in venues across the globe including working with Riccardo Chailly on concerts of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in 2013 and his concert debut at La Scala in 2015 for the opening season of La Verdi Orchestra. Recent highlights include debuts with the Houston, Dallas, and Minnesota symphonies; Osaka Philharmonic and Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra in Tokyo; with the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, and Dutch National Opera (Madama Butterfly); Bayerische Staatsoper (La Traviata); I Puritani in Montpellier for the Festival of Radio France; Traviata in Tokyo directed by Sofia Coppola; return engagements with Oper Frankfurt (La forza del destino) and Santa Fe Opera (La Bohème); Manon Lescaut at the Bolshoi; Traviata, Madama Butterfly, and Turandot at Arena of Verona; Il Trovatoreand Aida at Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera; Madama Butterfly, I Puritani, and Manon Lescaut at Teatro Massimo in Palermo; Simon Boccanegra and La Forza del Destino at the Verdi Festival in Parma; Ciro in Babilonia at Rossini Opera Festival and La Bohème, Madama Butterfly, and Elisir d’amore at La Fenice in Venice.

When Bignamini leads an orchestra in symphonic repertoire, he conducts without a score, preferring to make direct eye contact with the musicians. He conducts from the heart, forging a profound connection with his musicians that shines through both onstage and off. He both embodies and exudes the excellence and enthusiasm that has long distinguished the DSO’s artistry.

Meghan Picerno


Handpicked by theatre legend, Hal Prince, Meghan Picerno returned as Phantom of the Opera's leading lady, Christine Daaé for its historic Broadway reopening, where she was named Top Broadway replacements of 2019 (Broadway Box), and was recently nominated as Broadway Replacement of the Decade (Broadway World).

A fan favorite, she is consistently praised for her exciting, crowd-pleasing performances in opera, theatre, and on concert stages throughout the world. Picerno took national audiences by storm as Christine Daaé in the US Premiere and 1st National Tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies. Her portrayal of the character and title song has critics in awe, “Picerno, however, steals the show with her hypnotic, operatic voice and her expert depiction of Christine’s inner turmoil. Her impeccable vocal performance carries the climax of the production, in which Christine must choose between Raoul and the Phantom...Picerno’s high notes, exuding operatic flare, soar to the mezzanine level of the theater and beyond.” This led to special invitations from Lloyd Webber to represent his body of work in performance on the ITV Television broadcast of the Classic BRIT Awards in 2018, making her Royal Albert Hall debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and a guest appearance on the Live at Chelsea Concert Series honoring his 70th birthday. Additionally, Lloyd Webber invited her as a surprise guest on his book tour at NYC’s town hall with Academy Award nominated Glenn Close, to present the title song of Love Never Dies. After finishing Love Never Dies, Picerno was invited to take another turn at Christine, this time in a sparkling new production of The Phantom of the Opera on its highly lauded World Tour revival, premiering the iconic piece in Tel Aviv, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Singapore, and the Philippines before she transferred to Broadway.

Picerno's star began to rise after her first collaboration with legendary director Hal Prince as Cunegonde in his new and final production of Candide at New York City Opera. Of her performance, Huffington Post hailed: "The real beauty of the evening was Meghan Picerno, clear of voice and crisp of diction, who managed the challenging 'Glitter and Be Gay' with aplomb." Quickly becoming one of the most sought-after Cunegondes in the world, Picerno reprised the role at San Francisco Symphony (led by Michael Tilson Thomas), Princeton Symphony, the Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona (premiere) and most recently, with the Cincinnati Symphony at the highly celebrated May Festival.

Before hitting the road with Love Never Dies, Picerno delighted Off-Broadway audiences in Musicals in Mufti: Kurt Weill’s From Berlin to Broadway with the York Theatre Company and as Lucie Dreyfus in The Dreyfus Affair with Ensemble of the Romantic Century at BAM. Among Picerno's favorite regional credits are Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, Marian in The Music Man, Johanna in Sweeney Todd, and Maria in The Sound of Music.

On concert stages she starred in "Oh Happy Us" At The Appel Room at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Birdland Jazz, The Actor's Fund Gala celebrating Hal Prince, and T. Schreiber Studio's 48th Anniversary Gala. She has graced concert stages in solo debuts in prestigious venues such as New York City's David Geffen Hall and Alice Tully Hall, The Kennedy Center, The National Center of Performing Arts in Beijing, and Theatro Municipal de São Paulo. Picerno can also be seen in a commercial spot for Scrub Daddy, the most successful company ever featured on Shark Tank.

Upon graduation with a master of music degree in Voice from Manhattan School of Music, Picerno enjoyed a diverse career on operatic stages including thrilling performances of Queen of the Night in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall, and a series of successful role debuts throughout the country including Gilda in Rigoletto, La fée in Massenet's Cendrillon, Olympia in Les contes d'Hoffmann, Adele in Die Fledermaus, the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor and Curley's Wife in Of Mice and Men.

Picerno was a quarterfinalist in Plácido Domingo’s prestigious Operalia International Vocal Competition in London at The Royal Opera House, and received 1st prize in the Arkadi International Vocal and New York Lyric Opera's Vocal Competitions, The Forte International Competition; 2nd Prize in The American Prize Vocal Competition, and awards from the Alfredo Silipigni, Benjamin Matthews Competitions, and Career Bridges Grant Program.

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Saturday, December 2
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Meghan Picerno - Glitter and Be Gay - Candide



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